COP29 Can Be Turning Point For Azerbaijan's Clean Energy Transition And Beyond - IEA's Fatih Birol (Exclusive Interview)


(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 25. COP29 can be aturning point both for Azerbaijan and at the international level,Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International EnergyAgency (IEA) said in an interview with Trend .

"I think Azerbaijan has already proven to be a good energypartner to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor. Since manyyears, there was a good, mutually beneficial relationship withAzerbaijan and Europe. Now, when we look at Azerbaijan's renewablepotential, it is huge, both in terms of wind and solar energy. Iknow that the government is taking steps to move in this directionand has good plans to make the most of the renewable potential. Thevery recent auction on solar power is a good example in thatdirection," he said.

Birol believes that if those plans are realized, Azerbaijan canbe a good partner for Europe for clean energy.

"There are many good examples on that, including the Black SeaCable Project. I hope that in addition to the existing energypartnership based on the natural gas, renewable energy can be animportant component which Europe needs, what the world needs andwhere Azerbaijan has a very good potential. Europe's greentransition is mainly based on the clean energy, namely, solar, windenergy, energy efficiency, also green hydrogen and nuclear power insome countries. Azerbaijan has already made some steps in the cleanenergy. But these are still about a few percentage points of theentire potential the country has. So, I very much hope that thispotential is fully, if not fully, largely exploited, first, beingused at home in Azerbaijan," said IEA's executive director.

Also, as Birol pointed out, the potential is so big that it canbe a good source of exports to Europe through different ways.

"I also believe that Azerbaijan needs to pay a bit moreattention to improving energy efficiency at home. There's a bigpotential there. In that respect, COP29 can be a turning point notonly at the regional and international level, but also at thedomestic level, in Azerbaijan, to ramp up its efforts for cleanenergy transition, in addition to its traditional role of being areliable supplier to Europe. Last year, Azeri gas exports wereabout 12 billion cubic meters, and it's a significant amount, whichhelps to diversify European gas imports," he noted.

Birol also talked about his expectations from Azerbaijan's COPpresidency.

"The COP meetings are international summits around the world. Ihad the opportunity to attend several COP meetings. For the COP29,I expect a number of things from Azerbaijan's presidency. The firstone is to push forward the good outcomes coming from COP28 onrenewables, energy efficiency, reduction of methane emissions andothers for which the IEA played an instrumental role. Secondly, Ihope, a very key topic for clean energy transition globally, whichis the financing of clean energy transition will get a good placethere. Thirdly, countries are about to make new commitments in theyears to come in terms of how they are going to reduce theemissions. I hope the Azerbaijani presidency will provide a goodbasis for that," he said.

In addition, IEA's executive director believed that Azerbaijancan emerge as a leader in green transition.

"There are some areas that the countries can benefit a lot,namely how the countries in the region can reduce their methaneemissions, how the countries in the region can improve their energyefficiency, because their energy efficiency performance in theregion is below the international levels. There is a huge potentialto improve that. Azerbaijan hopefully, will look at these also tworegional aspects as well, in addition to the international points Ihave just mentioned," Fatih Birol said.

He went on to add that Azerbaijan is an oil and gas country,which wants to be a leader also, or playing a leading role in thegreen energy, because the potential is there.

"I see that there is also a political determination from thegovernment. I expect that on one hand, providing an importantcontribution to the fight against climate change globally,Azerbaijan can take steps to support the clean energy transition,evolution of the countries in the region. I believe there is a hugeopportunity for Azerbaijan to show its leadership. I know that,unlike some other COP presidencies, Azerbaijan has much less time, it is about two years or so for the preparation of thepresidencies. But in the case of Azerbaijan, it is some eightmonths that the government has. But my interactions with theAzerbaijani government officials, including the president-designateof COP29, and his colleagues, with the foreign minister, theeconomy minister, I see that they are very keen to make a perfectjob," said Birol.

He noted that IEA is ready to support Azerbaijan, as it did inthe United Arab Emirates, ensuring its successful COP28presidency.

"As I told our colleagues from the Azerbaijani government, weare ready to support the presidency of Azerbaijan from A to Z.There are many ways of supporting them. Firstly, on May 15, here inParis, we are going to organize a high-level dialogue, bringingseveral governments, several international organizations togetherin a discussion how we can get a good outcome from the COP29meeting in Baku. Azerbaijan's Minister of Ecology and NaturalResources Mukhtar Babayev and myself will chair this meeting. Wewill have several governments around the world represented in thismeeting to discuss the priorities of Azerbaijan and how we can worktogether. This is one area that we are going to work withAzerbaijan," he said.

Secondly, as Birol mentioned, there are different outcomes thatthe Azerbaijani government is working on, from finance to methane,from methane to efficiency, renewables.

"We are going to work very closely with the Azerbaijanigovernment to support them, to provide advice, to provide input tothem, as we have done for the COP28 presidency. Right afterAzerbaijan, there will be another COP meeting in Brazil, and I havealready visited Brasilia and discussed with President Luiz InácioLula da Silva about how we are going to build a long bridge betweenDubai, Baku, and Brazil, and we are going to work on that. I willbe soon coming to Baku to detail how we can make concrete steps. Wehave little time to get some meaningful results from the meeting I said, from A to Z, we are ready to support Azerbaijan as theInternational Energy Agency.

The visit will take place after the Paris meeting. I havealready hosted several Azerbaijani government officials here inParis headquarters, but the first international meeting that I amgoing to chair with Minister Babayev will be on May 15. AfterwardsI will come over to Baku to detail out our cooperation and theconcrete steps we need to take to have a successful meeting thatour colleagues from Emirates had," said IEA's executivedirector.

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